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Gladiators is a British television series produced by LWT for ITV on Saturdays nights from 10 October 1992 to 1 January 2000. It is an adaptation of the United States game show American Gladiators. An Australian spin-off and a Swedish one followed. A revival of the show was broadcast on Sky1 in 2008 and 2009 prior to being axed.

The show was originally presented by John Fashanu and Ulrika Jonsson. John Fashanu was replaced by Jeremy Guscott in 1997, before returning for the final mini series in 1999.

The referee was John Anderson and the timekeepers over the show's run were Andrew Norgate, Derek Redmond and Eugene Gilkes. John Sachs commentated for the show from the beginning to the end and the gladiators were cheered on by a group of cheerleaders, known as G-Force.

Despite being made by London Weekend Television, all episodes of Gladiators and International Gladiators were recorded at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham. Gladiators: The Ashes 1 and Gladiators: Springbok Challenge 2, however, were filmed on the sets of the Australian and South African versions of the shows respectively.

ControversiesEdit

The relationship between "Hunter" (James Crossley) and presenter Ulrika Jonsson was a tabloid focus during 1996 and 1997. The pair initially denied the affair, but later Jonsson admitted it in her 2003 biography.

After the Wembley live shows in 1993 Phoenix, Flame and Hawk were sensationally sacked from the show having received the lowest number of votes in a magazine poll.

"Bullit" having only just joined the team for the 1993 live shows, was dropped from the show shortly after they had finished. He remains the only Gladiator (excluding Blaze) who was not transferred over to the TV series, No reason for this was ever given.

"Shadow" was sacked from the show in 1994, after a newspaper uncovered evidence that he had taken steroids.

"Warrior" after being arrested for a fire arms offence found himself also cut from the show in 1998.

"Raider" remains the only Gladiator on the show to face an immediate exclusion from the show, for having pushed a contender who beat him in the Gauntlet. The contender, while on the floor, had kicked Raider out of the Gauntlet so as to win, and was not punished.

Gladiators Nightshade, Jet, Amazon and Zodiac all quit the show following serious injury, either during training or on the show itself. Panther suffered one of the most shocking injuries during a game of "Tilt" in series 3, She returned to the show the following series and remained with the show for a further two years before retiring permanently.

Contender Nicola Bawden caused controversy following the very first game of the Wall after she slipped away from Scorpio. Scorpio had managed to get hold of her, but she slipped off moments later and dropped to the floor. It turned out that Bawden had greased her legs so Scorpio could not get a firm grip of her. It also turned out that Bawden had undone her laces so that Scorpio could not hold onto her trainers. Although this wasn't explored on the actual programme, the incident was given mention on the first video release Into the Arena as Scorpio did indeed make a complaint. John Anderson, after reviewing the footage, ruled that while Bawden did indeed use excessive grease on her legs there was no actual rule prohibiting this therefore she was allowed to retain the points she had earned. However Anderson also ruled that Bawden greasing her legs to escape Scorpio was not keeping in the spirit of the programme and new rules were immediately put in place to prevent her or any other contestants from trying the same trick. Scorpio was shown to be unhappy about this as she considered Bawden to have cheated but when she advanced to the semi-finals, Scorpio was given a second chance to chase her up The Wall. This time, she was successful in wrenching Bawden off The Wall.

John AndersonEdit

John Anderson has been the head official for all nine series (including the revival). Before every event he called: "Contender ready! Gladiator ready!," similar to his American counterpart, Larry Thompson, but also he added a countdown, "Three! Two! One!" before starting the match. During celebrity specials Anderson took a more light-hearted attitude to the show such as adapting his call to "Little contender ready!" when Willie Carson took part.

Former American League (Major League Baseball) umpire Al Kaplon adopted Anderson's countdown before the whistle in the 2008 US revival.

Train 2 WinEdit

In the late 1990s, when the popularity of the programme began to wane, a spin-off entitled Gladiators: Train 2 Win was produced and was broadcast on CITV in 1996, based on Gladiators 2000, the kids' version of American Gladiators. The show featured two teams of children, each captained by a gladiator (varying each week) which sought to gain the most points. Some of the games differed from those on the parent show; for example, the "Eliminator" round was more similar to the "Pursuit" round (though it still featured the famous "Travelator").

International showsEdit

While the show itself was inspired by the USA's American Gladiators, the UK show inspired many other countries to start their own series. The first two countries to get in on the act after the US and UK were Russia and Finland. All four appeared on the first International Gladiators series. Shortly after this series other countries such as Nigeria, Australia, South Africa and Germany followed the trend. The last two nations to broadcast the show were Denmark and Sweden, Denmark beginning in 2002 and ending quickly afterwards. Sweden started in 2001 and ended in 2004, after much success including the only ever Gladiators PC game, 'Gladiatorerna'. With Sweden gone in 2004, no other nations remained, and therefore the Gladiators craze was over for the time being until discussions erupted in the United States in 2007 about a revival.

LegendsEdit

There have been three "Legends" shows for the new Sky1 series, one for the first series and a further two for the second series. In these specials, former Gladiators from the UK show's original incarnation return as special contenders, taking on the might of the new generation of Gladiators. These specials are filmed in the aid of charity.

For the first show "The Legends Return", Gladiators Wolf, Lightning, Flame, Hunter, Trojan, Ace, Rebel and Rocket made a welcome return in the new revamped 2008 arena. The event was broadcast on 31 August 2008 on Sky1 and resulted in the women "Legends" defeating the current Gladiators and the male "Legends" beaten by the current group of Gladiators.

Former Gladiator Hunter proved he still has what it takes in the arena by instantly defeating Spartan on Duel. Hunter lived up to his crown of being the "Ultimate Gladiator", a status he achieved in "Battle of the Giants" in 1999.

A second show for Series 2 was recently filmed, "The Legends Strike Back". Returning from Legends 1 were Wolf, Lightning, Trojan and Rocket, who were now joined by Scorpio, Cobra, Siren and Bullitt. It was classed as the very first show of Series 2 and was broadcast on 21 December 2008.

Legends 3 has also now completed filming. The returning Female Legends were Vogue, Rebel and the original Panther and Siren. The returning Male Legends were Ace, Cobra, Khan and Trojan (who is now the only Gladiator, male or female, to take part in all three Legends shows) with Wolf on the New Gladiator's Side. It was due to air on Sky2 during August 2009, but was dropped before airing. The Sky website labelled it as a repeat, but it has never aired before. Sky1 finally aired the Legends 3 special entitled "Gladiators: The Legends' Last Stand" on 25 October 2009.

Because of copyright issues with ITV, the Legends were not allowed to wear their trademark Gladiator costumes and instead had brand new costumes made especially for the charity specials.

ToysEdit

During 1992 and 1995, Hornby made a selection of Action Figures + Playsets.

ACTION FIGURES

  • B800- Jet
  • B801- Shadow
  • B802- Wolf
  • B803- Saracen
  • B804- Cobra
  • B805- Warrior
  • B806- Male Contender
  • B807- Female Contender

PLAYSETS

  • B821- Duel
  • B822- Atlasphere Attack (With Wolf)
  • B823- Danger Zone (With Warrior And Male Contender)
  • B824- Atlasphere Challenge (With Cobra And Male Contender)
  • B825- Super Duel (With Shadow And Male Contender)
  • B826- The Ultimate Challenge (With Saracen And Male Contender)

B823 (Danger Zone) was due to have a Hawk action figure included but because he left the show it was later scrapped, although a few sets left the factory with Hawk figures still in them.

A second wave, released in 1993, contained:

  • Hunter Action Figure
  • Zodiac Action Figure
  • Trojan Action Figure
  • Panther Action Figure
  • The Wall Playset

A later International Gladiators wave contained:

  • Terminator (Finland) Action Figure
  • Dynamite (Russia) Action Figure
  • Hawk (United States) Action Figure
  • Hunter (United Kingdom) Action Figure

An addition to this wave, a Gauntlet playset with Lightning (United Kingdom) action figure, was cancelled and never went into production.

A final "Australian gladiators" wave contained:

  • Taipan Action Figure
  • Tower Action Figure
  • Vulcan Action Figure
  • Hammer Action Figure
  • Condor Action Figure
  • Male Contender Figure
  • Duel Playset

TransmissionsEdit

Original seriesEdit

Series Start date End date Episodes
1 10 October 1992 5 December 1992 9
2 18 September 1993 1 January 1994 15
3 10 September 1994 17 December 1994 15
4 16 September 1995 23 December 1995 15
5 28 September 1996 4 January 1997 15
6 13 September 1997 20 December 1997 15
7 5 September 1998 12 December 1998 15
8 11 December 1999 1 January 2000 3

International GladiatorsEdit

Series Start date End date Episodes
1 7 January 1995 18 February 1995 7
2 20 April 1996 8 June 1996 7

The AshesEdit

Series Start date End date Episodes
1 30 December 1995 13 January 1996 3
2 18 January 1997 1 February 1997 3

Springbok ChallengeEdit

Series Start date End date Episodes
1 3 January 1998 17 January 1998 3

SpecialsEdit

Date Entitle
9 January 1993 The Challenge Of The Gladiators
28 August 1993 Return Of The Gladiators
26 December 1993 The Battle Of The Gladiators
3 September 1994 The Return
24 December 1994 The Celebrity Challenge
31 December 1994 The Fighting Forces Challenge
20 January 1996 Battle Of The Champions
11 January 1997 Celebrity Challenge
27 December 1997 Celebrity Special
25 December 1999 Battle Of The Giants